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Raising teens is not an easy task. A lot of teen families are struggling right now. There are ways to bridge the gaps. Here are some tips to assist you in that process:

Tip #1: Listen. Your teenager has a lot on their plate with school, planning for the future, friends who are struggling, anxiety and hormones that wreak havoc in their bodies. Take the time to listen when they want to talk. Let them get things off their chest without judgment, correction or advice. They need a safe haven in their life and that needs to be you.

Tip #2: Respect. If your teen is yelling or cussing at you, throwing things or doing other unacceptable behaviors, you need to address it immediately. It’s not about judging them. Yelling, throwing things or cussing at them is not the answer either. It’s a teaching and connecting opportunity. They need to learn how to manage and express their upset in a respectful way. You start by talking to them about it, after they have calmed down. You have a conversation and work on problem-solving the underlying issue as well as how they are expressing their anger and disappointment. Many times families do not take the time to have those conversations because they don’t want to bring up something that may start an argument. The key is in HOW you do it, not whether or not you do. The conversation is the beginning. If you need assistance, feel free to contact me using the contact information below.

Tip #3: Timing. You’ve heard the old adage “timing is everything.” Timing really does matter. When your kids are on their way to school and they have pressure about a test, it’s not the time to lecture them about making their bed or not eating breakfast. Allow them to focus on the task at hand. Then, come back to that conversation later in the day when their test is behind them. This is showing courtesy and respect. Since they cannot resolve the issue in the car (making their bed), all it would accomplish is creating distance and frustration. Instead, put your disappointment aside, support them for their test and talk later. That’s how you become their safe haven.

Tip #4: Not when you’re angry. If you are feeling angry or hurt and you are not able to sit down and calmly have a conversation with your son or daughter, wait. You need to work through your upset so you can respectfully talk about the situation. Granted, there are times when things must be handled immediately, upset or not. Then Tip #2 comes into play and you get to practice modeling being respectful in spite of being angry. For Tip #4, however, I’m talking about times when you have the ability to take a personal time-out so you can take care of yourself and get clear on where you’re at. Then you can come back calmly for a conversation, thus teaching your child how to do the same. It’s a gift. If you’re coming at them yelling and then they get in trouble for yelling, it just adds fuel to the fire and undermines respect, trust, boundaries and connection; it’s extremely damaging. Talk to your kids from a place of love, not anger. Work through your anger first.

If you are looking for support in the community for raising teen boys, I highly recommend attending this event: The Transformation of Boys to Men, Find Your Path.

Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent, an organization devoted to healthy parent-child relationships. She can be reached at 951-240-1407 or traci@alovingway.com. www.alovingway.com